Here I was all set to go Elitist on the country singer Lee Greenwood, and I pulled the rug out from under myself. I shared Rachel Maddow's incredulity that the limping duck George W. Bush had appointed Greenwood to the National Council of the Arts. I even had my first two sentences written in my head: "Remember how the Bush takeover squad at the White House complained the Clintonites had unplugged all the PCs on their way out the door? As he steadfastly marches toward his own sunset, it is Bush himself who seems unplugged."
Zing! Totally unfair, but snappy, Bush had two vacancies to fill on the NCA, one for three years, one for six. Greenwood got the six-year term. He'll be the gift that keeps on giving every day during Obama's first term. The Council's job is to advise the National Endowment for the Arts on how to spend its money. I assume Greenwood will support the endowment's Shakespeare in American Communities Initiative, but you can never be sure about those things.
Yada yada yada. But then I did a little research on Lee Greenwood and had to abandon my wisecracks. I concluded that Greenwood's career makes him a not unreasonable choice for the Council. To begin with, he is the perfect age, my age. He is a singer-songwriter. He built his own theater in Seiverville, Tenn., and performed there from 1995 to 2000. Wiki explains the theater was not located in the "heavily entertainment and tourist-oriented area of Pigeon Forge," which "contributed to its closing." Greenwood had the semi-obligatory cocaine addiction around the age of 20, which was not all that common in 1962, but "moved to Iceland to go to rehab." He is best known for writing and singing "God Bless the USA," which I do not prefer to Springsteen's "Born in the USA," but that's just me.
Greenwood has lived the American Dream. Raised on a poultry farm outside Sacramento by his grandparents, he started playing the sax at the age of seven. He's won all the big awards, including Singer of the Year and Song of the Year. He took time off to perform at McCain and Palin rallies. By all accounts he is a thoroughly decent man. Although his background may not parallel all of the other members of the NCA, why should it? He brings a fresh perspective. And there is absolutely no reason why country and western, that most American of musical forms along with jazz and the blues, should not be heard from on the Council.
Interesting stuff. There's a lot there I didn't know about Greenwood, whom I've only associated with that one song of his (and I don't even like that song).